Maybe you’re just getting started on YouTube, or you’ve been here a while and are just starting to build your channel. In either case, you’ve likely heard a thing or two about YouTube networks. When you think ‘network’, you might think that they only cover large channels- fortunately for you, this is a misconception. There are YouTube networks for small channels, too. In fact, the best scale appropriately no matter how big you are.
What is a YouTube network?
A YouTube network, known alternatively as a multi-channel network (MCN), are networks that deal with things like advertising, monetization and copyright law on their partner’s behalf. It should be noted that MCNs aren’t strictly necessary to produce monetized content, but do offer benefits that make it easier, such as access to video production facilities, funding for expensive projects, assistance with SEO and, in some cases, seamless access to other platforms besides YouTube.
YouTube networks are paid for through what’s called a revenue share. They monetize your videos and advertise with their advertising partners, sharing profits with you. This revenue share can be as high as them taking 40%, or as low as them just taking 10%, depending on your level of traffic and the MCN you’re signed up with.
In return for a cut of your profits, your network will provide you with access to tools that will help make you and your channel more popular.
They have a real interest in helping you and your YouTube channel grow, since they directly profit from it.
This relationship comes with some cons. Specifically, MCNs that take a high amount of revenue share (40%) can be devastating to the already miniscule income that a small channel will be making. Look at it this way: say you’re making $10 in ad revenue per video, while another YouTuber is making $100 in ad revenue per video. With that high revenue share, you’re making $6 out of $10 (losing almost half of a very small number!), while the other YouTuber is making $60 out of $100. They’re losing the same amount in proportions, but $60 is a significantly larger sum than $6.
Smaller channels, therefore, are going to feel the downsides of the revenue share much harder than larger channels will. The right YouTube networks for small channels will offer enough benefits to offset these downsides and allow you to grow as a content creator. So don’t just look at revenue shares as the only way to assess a YouTube network: take a look at the services and support they offer, and determine if that’s the price you’re willing to pay.
So, what are the best YouTube networks for small channels?
Curse: Union For Gamers
Curse’s Union For Gamers is considered among the best YouTube networks for small channels, as well as larger ones. Curse offers some pretty great features at a fairly low price.
Incredibly low revenue share. (They only take 10%!)
No revenue cap. You’ll always be paid 90%, no matter how big or little.
No lock-in contracts. While other providers (cough cough Machinima) are notorious for awful contracts that keeped you trapped, Curse doesn’t attempt to trap you in legalese.
Access to two huge royalty-free music libraries, great promotion opportunities, etc.
High threshold for small/new channels: you need one thousand subscribers and four thousand views per month to qualify, or eight thousand views in a month.
You’re still giving them ten percent of your revenue.
Another major name in YouTube networks is Fullscreen. Unlike Curse, they aren’t focused specifically on gaming, so non-gamers can sign up with this network.
Good, but not great, revenue share. (70% for you, 30% for them.)
500+ subscribers and ‘quality content’ (likely meaning HD videos) are the main requirements. These are reasonable requirements for a good network.
Simultaneous uploads to various video platforms.
Access to footage libraries and editing assistance, as well as collaboration opportunities.
Two year lock-in contract.
Collaborations are limited to people in Fullscreen’s network.
Payment threshold is at $50 per month- if you don’t make that, the amount you do make is added up to next month’s. If that still isn’t $50, it’ll go on, and on, and on…
Revenue share is still a significant cut for small channels.
Freedom is fairly popular among YouTube networks for small channels, but isn’t known for being super scalable moving into the high end.
The lowest requirements- 1000 views a month, or 33 views a day.
Scalable revenue share- starts you at 60%, and eventually moves you up to 95%.
No payment threshold, or lock in contract.
Normal network benefits.
High starting revenue share- 40% of your revenue is really high, especially when it comes to YouTube networks for small channels.
Many user-end controversies…too much to write about here, but do a few Google searches.
Normal network benefits, but at a fairly price in return.
Creative Nation is a newer network, but fairly popular among YouTube networks for small channels, as well as larger channels. They don’t have a whole lot of partners, but offer good features at a high revenue share. They also do all genres, though they are popular among gamers as an alternative to Curse.
A fairly high 90% revenue share- they only take 10%.
33-80 views a day makes a fairly low barrier of entry.
$1 payment threshold.
A lot of sponsorship opportunities in addition to the usual network benefits.
Sponsorships aside, don’t offer a whole lot of high-end features.
Therefore, taking ten percent for relatively little in return…unless you take advantage of their sponsorship deals.
Maker Studios (RPM)
Maker Studios is owned by Disney. Not too long ago, Maker acquired the RPM Network which is now called Maker Gen. Maker Gen is a subsidiary of Maker Studios. Maker Studios is a massive YouTube network and one of the oldest. Chances are, a lot of your favorite channels are beholden to Maker Studios and likely some also now participate in maker Gen. Maker Studios was purchased by Disney in February 2015, as described above. Maker Studios doesn’t focus on any particular genre and offers the usual benefits of an MCN.
Small view threshold: only 2500 per month!
Videos are shared and promoted on their channel if they think it’s good enough.
The usual dressings of a YouTube network.
One year lock-in contract.
High revenue share- they take 40% and you get 60%.
You need to make $50 or more to get paid each month.
Do I really need one?
Now, it’s time for you to sit down and decide if you even need YouTube networks for small channels. In particular, gaming channels following the rules of fair use don’t need to use YouTube networks at all to monetize their content, they just need to stay away from copyrighted music and copyright infringement. If you know enough about making and spreading your YouTube channel, you could very well do without getting partnered with a YouTube network.
However, some YouTube networks may offer features you need. Sponsorships can be a big deal in this arena, this is why we covered YouTube sponsorship for small channels on our blog previously. If you’re capable of putting in the extra work on your own, though- making and creating your own analytics, managing your own thumbnails, etc- you’ll be getting 100% of your revenue share without being beholden to a contract with a YouTube network.
Just because you’re going without a network doesn’t mean you should be going alone, either- getting collaborations is important, and using our app, Grin, you can be connected with all kinds of content creators just like you, who can help you grow your channel.
To learn more about getting big on YouTube, head over to our blog.